President Trump and first lady Melania Trump flew to tornado-wracked eastern Alabama on Friday to survey the damage from a deadly tornado that devastated a small town, killing nearly two dozen people.
The president toured rural Lee County, where 23 people died Sunday in a massive EF4 tornado that carved a path of destruction nearly a mile wide with 170-mph winds.
Air Force One landed at a military base along the Georgia border, where Trump boarded a chopper for an aerial tour of some of the damage.
He and Melania later arrived in Beauregard — which took a direct hit — to meet with survivors of the storm.
En route, the motorcade passed severely damaged homes, fallen trees and whole neighborhoods that had been destroyed.
At one empty lot, all that was left of a home that had been there were broken pieces of metal, wood and scattered clothes.
It was one of at least 38 tornadoes confirmed to have touched down across the Southeast in a deadly weekend outbreak.
As he left Washington, Trump said he expected to meet with Gov. Kay Ivey and people who “got hit very hard by the tornadoes.” He also planned to thank first responders.
Trump has said he’s instructed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give Alabama “the A Plus treatment” as the state recovers.
The Beauregard tornado was the deadliest to hit the US since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.
The Alabama dead included four children and a couple in their 80s, with 10 victims belonging to a single extended family.
The area where the tornado struck is generally Trump country, as he carried about 60 percent of the Lee County vote in 2016, and blue Trump flags flying outside homes are a frequent sight in Beauregard.
Standing amid bricks and lumber that used to be her mother’s home, Renee Frazier waved at Trump’s helicopter as it passed overhead during his aerial tour of the destruction.
Minutes before, she was arguing with relatives who opposed Trump’s visit, calling it more about politics than compassion.
“I want the president here to see what happened to my mom’s house,” she said. “I want him right here on this land because my mom is about love and unity.”
Trump had already been scheduled to fly south Friday for a weekend at his private Mar-a-Lago club and will be heading there after the tour.
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